CAR SALES dropped in August for the first time in seven months, the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) and the Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) reported on Thursday, describing the reduction as seasonal.

Data the groups released showed that overall sales dropped 2.4% to 29,599 units in August from 30,313 vehicles a year ago, and seven percent from July’s 31,810 total.

It was the first year-on-year drop since January’s 15% fall.

But increases from February to July resulted in a 2.44% increase in industry sales to 235,544 vehicles as of August from 229,941 units in last year’s comparable eight months.

“Supply constraints and the run-out of outgoing models of some brands have hampered the industry’s rate of recovery in August,” CAMPI President Rommel R. Gutierrez said in a statement. “Together with that, the reality of seasonal trends in the industry continue to hold true, despite the boosted sales and marketing campaigns during the off-peak month of August.”

August last year saw sales drop 14.04%, as the industry reeled from higher automobile excise tax rates that kicked in at the start of 2018.

However, August 2017 saw sales grow 8.7% year-on-year.

August sales of commercial vehicles — which accounted for 70.33% of the industry total — dropped by 3.8% to 20,818 from 21,635 in the same month last year. Sales of Asian Utility Vehicles rose by 8.6% to 3,236 vehicles from 2,981 units, while those of light commercial vehicles dropped by five percent to 16,488 units from 17,354 vehicles.

In contrast, passenger vehicle sales grew by 1.2% to 8,781 units from 8,678 vehicles.

Toyota Motors Philippines Corp. continued to have the biggest vehicle market share at 44.2%, selling 13,083 units in August, 6.2% more than a year ago. It was followed by Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. with 17.09% share though with sales dropping 7.3% to 5,057 units from 5,456 last year. Nissan Philippines, Inc. followed with 11.83% share, dropping by 22.2% to 3,501 from 4,500 units. Suzuki Philippines, Inc. sold 7.26% of the total, increasing its sales by 17% to 2,149 units from 1,836 a year ago. Ford Motor Company Philippines, Inc. came next, contributing 7.28% to the total with 1,515 units sold, 14.4% more than the 1,324 vehicles sold a year ago.

“Traditionally, August has been a challenging month for the industry. However, we expect a positive turnaround this September until the last quarter of the year as the industry introduces new car models…” Mr. Gutierrez said, saying the group’s of 410,000 unit sales goal “remains… highly achievable goal for the industry and we expect the road to recovery to continue until the end of the year.” — Jenina P. Ibañez